I come bearing news of the forthcoming novel Lilah’s Guide to Hoyle by myself and my good friend, Albert J. Debusschere III. It is currently available for pre-order at this link. It’s slated to be released June 21, 2018. You can also use the promo code: PREORDER2018 to receive a 10% discount.
“What hand has life dealt you? Let’s check. . .”
“All life is a gamble. . . We go to sleep every night comfortably betting that the next day we’ll wake up.”
Demons. Sorcery. Magical playing cards.
It’s anything but a fairy tale. Armed with her choice deck, her beloved book, Hoyle’s Guide to Poker and Parlor Tricks, and the skill that led her to throw away her college fund, gambles with her life—and with the lives of those around her.
Elsewhere, other players have a different idea of the rules of the game. And investigating the bizarre chain of events is Middleton PD’s finest, Detectives Dana Deupree and Walter Conway.
It’s anyone’s game. The cards have been shuffled, and the stakes are high. The call has gone around the table. Others may fold, but not Lilah.
She plays for keeps.
Check out the excerpt below for a taste of things to come from this epic series.
—Excerpt from Chapter 1♠—
♦ ♠ ♣ ♥ ♠
“What are you doing? I said keep your hands where I can see them!” The New England spring night turned the mugger’s words into barely visible tufts of vapor. Beads of sweat dotted the man’s forehead. The gun in his hand trembled as his gaze fell to the girl’s hands.
They moved like clockwork: the pale right hand slid into the jet-black purse slung low on her side, while the left hovered between her and the mugger in the universal “hold on a minute” gesture. The tip of each of her slender fingers ended in the same jet black as the rest of her outfit.
In the brief moment of tension, as the girl’s hands did their job, the mugger could see underneath the typical high-school goth garb. She was attractive. Her dark-brown eyes were magnified by the thin-rimmed, if not exaggerated, glasses that defiantly exclaimed, “Here’s a nerd and she’s proud of it.”
“This is all I have. Please, don’t hurt me,” she said coolly. If he had been more focused, he might have noticed just how chillingly calm she was.
His gaze snapped from the smooth curve of her cheek back to her right hand, which she was now retracting from her purse. The gun mimicked her movement. Her hand paused for a second as if in doubt, then slowly continued on its path, revealing something that caught him completely off guard: a deck of playing cards.
“All life is a gamble,” she began. “We go to sleep every night comfortably betting that the next day we’ll wake up. When we hop in our cars in the morning, we take the chance that maybe right around the corner is a drunk driver, driving a hundred miles an hour, about to end our lives.” Her words cut into the silence of 3:00 a.m. Something about the way she talked and moved sent a chill down the man’s spine. He hoped she didn’t notice. He had the gun, he told himself. He was in control of the situation.
The girl’s left hand dropped and met her right hand in front of her chest. Together, they began a rhythmic dance of cutting and shuffling the deck. The cards seemed to fall onto each other, flipping and turning intermingling. “Every day, loved ones and complete strangers die. Deaths in the hundreds, in the thousands, in the hundreds of thousands!” she continued, her voice taking on a manic characteristic. “Some deaths are obscure, others are known worldwide. Murder, suicide, disease, old age. But one thing ties us together—our very mortality, the one thing that makes each and every one of us equal. We are just fodder for the cause that is life, fodder for progress!”
Most of her words fell on deaf ears as her assailant became fixated on the ballet of cards and fingers transpiring before him, the smooth paper and skin performing before him. Occasionally, he caught hints of red and black, and as the cards twisted and turned in her hands almost hypnotically, all tension in the mugger’s body drifted away. His hand and gun slumped down to his side.
“Now, I will offer you a rare opportunity. I will show you just how fragile your life is.” The crescendo in her tone ceased, and her voice dropped back down to a murmur. “I will determine your fate in five cards.” Her hands stopped, and she drew four cards from the top of the deck. “Let’s see.” She showed the first card to the man. “An ace of hearts.” She drew the second card. “Eight of spades, but that’s not important.” She revealed the third card. “Eight of diamonds.” A sinister grin sprawled across her lips as she drew the fourth card, and a growling undercurrent escaped her throat with each syllable. “An ace of clubs. Mister, you are a dead man, and this is your hand.”
Her left hand moved back to the deck, but this time, it didn’t make contact. The man’s head buzzed as he realized the top card was floating. Like an avalanche closing in on him, her last few words began to ring in his head exponentially louder. He brought the gun up again, pointing it straight at her heart. The card now stood erect on top of the deck and began to slowly rotate, and the little goth nerd’s expression slowly changed from slight evil to all-out sadistic glee; her eyes glowed a dim demonic green.
His hands trembled terribly; and no matter how much he willed it, he couldn’t move his finger the two centimeters that could make all this trouble go away. The card was now halfway spun, and his right eye turned red as blood vessels burst behind his retina. He clenched his eyes shut and with all his might willed his finger to move—and it did.
The crash was deafening. Scalding sparks exploded across the usually vacant alleyway. Warm blood splattered across the brick walls, across the now-revealed ten of spades, and across the young girl’s grinning face; across her exaggerated nerd glasses.
The mugger’s lifeless body dropped to the ground, blood spurting out from where the right half of his face had been and gushing out from what remained of his arm. The ten of spades nestled back down on the deck, and she placed the cards back in their tiny home in her purse. She removed a paperback book with the name HOYLE in large white letters on the cover and pulled a pen out along with it. Flipping through the pages, she settled on the page with the chapter title “Two Pair,” and quickly scribbled in the margin: Ten of spades makes guns explode.
—END OF EXCERPT—
I hope you enjoyed this excerpt and consider purchasing Lilah’s Guide to Hoyle to entertain your mind and find the series to be engrossing. Stay tuned for more news and the inevitable release!
Until next time,